And It Was a Very Good Day


The long awaited surf finally arrived. Its been a long time between waves, but today Jason and I managed to get down to Cabarita near Tweed Heads for beautiful morning of waves.

It was offshore, about waist to head high and perfect. A smaller crowd would always be nice, but there were still enough waves to go around and we went home happy people.

The swell sounds like it is going to hang around and even get a little bigger so the next week should be cool. I feel like a thirsty man who just had a long drink!

The Missional Imagination

I like this post from Phil Cooke who suggests the secret to having great ideas is to have so many that sooner or later one has got to be good!

It might sound obvious, but I think we often give up on thinking creatively because we have never had a genuine whizzbang winner pop out.

As we consider how we can connect with our communities and how we can think innovatively about our church communities, we probably need to allow many ideas to come to the surface realising that most of them will never go beyond the whiteboard.

Phil suggests that of 100 ideas, we can expect

– 10 are totally stupid (you have to have those)

– 50 sounded good, but won’t really work

– 30 will maybe work in some other way

– 5 were ideas I REALLY liked for awhile, but then got old

– 3 are quite good, but not ready for prime time

– 2 I’d actually be proud to pitch

It makes you realise that unless you are uniquely gifted, creative thinking will be infinitely more productive in a larger group. We can sit around, brainstorm and then write every idea up for consideration before even passing judgement on their worthiness. Often these are laughter filled times as we allow ourselves to imagine the impossible and to verbalise the bizzarre.

We have often found that the wackiest and wildest ideas while laughable at first, do prompt us to ask ‘what if?…’ And from there a stupid idea gets re-shaped to be a something still unique and captivating, but now within the realms of being doable.

Anyway, may you have many many many wonderful ideas….

An Aussie GPS

Today as I was driving into Brisbane I started to get annoyed with the gentle dulcet tones of my GPS as she softly instructed me to ‘bear right’ or ‘enter the motorway’. She sounds like a lovely woman and is incredibly patient. Even when I am heading in the opposite direction all she says is ‘make a U turn as soon as possible’.

I started to ponder GPS’s wondering firstly why they tend to have female voices… but the answer was self explanatory so I moved on.

I started to wonder if there might be a market for a more macho navigational instrument that speaks to you like a mate would rather than like a primary school teacher to a 6 year old. Some more beefy instructions would be much more entertaining…

When driving in the right lane – ‘Get in the left lane you moron. Waddya reckon you own the *&#% road?’

When approaching lights instead of alerting you to the presence of red light cameras it could just say ‘tramp it mate! You’ll get thru!’ followed by cheering and applause that increases with the speed of the vehicle.

When you have missed your turn off – ‘crikey dipstick – what’s so difficult about turn right/left!’

When you are on a long stretch – ‘break out a beer mate. This is gunna take a while.’

Perhaps like today when the maps loaded on the GPS are out of date and you are driving round the city swearing at the stupid machine it could be programmed to give a bit back…

Whatever the case – surely we can make GPS driving more interesting than it is at present…

Rant over…



Danelle suggested I need to buy this shirt the other day…

Fair enough, I’m not a ‘natural people person’ and don’t mind long slabs of my own company, but lately I’ve been hanging to see some friends and people with whom I can have a more significant and intelligent conversation about things other than caravans!

It was good to see Jarrod and Simon up in Yeppoon and hear some of their story and then last night to catch Carson and Tanya, friends who have moved over here.

We’ve been with Steve & Felicity Turner on the Sunshine Coast for a few days and will be here till Wednesday. We connected with these guys thru Forge and its been great to see their place and observe them at work. Brilliant missionaries and wonderful people!

Tomorrow I am heading down to Brisbane to connect with some of the missional leaders in a local informal network in the city before having lunch with Brett in the afternoon. Again that will be refreshing and inspiring.

Then on Wednesday we leave the Sunshine coast and head into Brisbane. I’m looking forward to spending some time with Brent, before heading up to spend the evening with Ken and Leanne who are also inspiring missionaries.

From there we head to Murwhillhumbah (did I spell it right this time Kel!?) to see Jason and Willow before our week of living in the Gold Coast under a solid roof. Hopefully we will get a chance to see Gaz somewhere in there as well.

As much as I am not a rabid party animal I really need to spend time around people like these to feel like I am still alive and kicking. So I’m looking forward to the next few days and the connections we will make.


Over the trip I have been reading a few newer blogs and websites – well newer to me at least…

On the camping front there is:

– pretty much what it says and worth a read if you are doing what we are.

– a general purpose info site

– where you can pick up on lots of free campspots – a good site and like a ‘Camps 4 Book’ online

On a different note I have also started reading the writing of Stan over at and am enjoying some of his reflections on the challenges he is facing in helping a church embrace a missionary identity.

Ellie’s Big Day


Thanks to a friend we got the tip that yesterday at Australia Zoo kids would get in free because it was Bindi Irwin’s 11th birthday. That saved us a few bucks and also meant that there was a heap more to do. It was a great day and well worth a visit.

After attending the main ‘birthday event’ in the mid morning we heard that there was a lecture on after lunch and that there would be a quiz following that lecture, where the winners would get to meet Bindi. Ellie’s ears pricked up and she shifted into ‘determined little girl’ mode, as she sometimes does when she wants something bad enough!

So we went along with a couple of thousand other people to this lecture on environmentalism and conservation. All very nice and then the questions came. I was off in lala land as I was quite bored until I heard that the little girl in the pink shirt with the white hat had been chosen. Ellie the introvert had jumped up and down and managed to grab sufficient attention to get chosen.

So we all meandered down the front where we took the stage and Ellie gave her answer. She was then given a monstrous wombat (need a spare suitcase to get it home) and several other very cool things.

Needless to say she was a very happy little girl!

Re-Imagining Missional Distinctives

Recently I have been considering again what it means to be a ‘missionary community’, and I have been pondering what ‘values’ we would hold dear, and to be honest I get very weary of those ‘discovering our values’ exercises because inevitably we discover that we value the Bible, prayer, relationships etc. Its all no brainer type of stuff and we didn’t need to spend a day (or a year) pondering it.

Because of this I have come to appreciate the concept of distinctives quite a bit more. I think we can all agree that we value the Bible & prayer & loving one another and evangelism and blah blah blah… (if we don’t then we’re in the wrong game) but perhaps we need to ponder what is it that is actually unique about the community that God has called us to be?

As I ponder this I like to frame it in non-biblical words and from the perspective of a member of our local community looking on who isn’t a Christian but who gets what we are about. I thought I’d take a post to reflect on some of the distinctives that I would want to characterise any community of people that I am involved with. So have a read and see what you resonate with and what jars with you.

These are in no particular order…

generosity – I’d love for the people in our neighbourhood to be aware that this is a community who splash their money and time and relationships around with great liberality. In such a self focused society I believe that personal and corporate generosity can function as a prophetic statement about what the kingdom of God is like. And who would ever knock a church for being obscenely generous?!

earthiness – It’d be great if those who come near feel a sense of these being ordinary people who sometimes get life right and sometimes stuff it up, but who do it with Jesus in the midst. When church people start to give off airs of superiority most Aussies will simply walk away. Again I’d ask, who would ever knock a church for being a ‘society of sinners’ where other likeminded strugglers are more than welcome. Everyone knows we aren’t as squeaky clean as sometimes gets made out so let’s be honest with that and maybe we might drop the hypocrite flag a bit lower.

fun – seriously! I realise this may depend on your defintion of ‘fun’, but surely a community where people laugh a lot and enjoy being together has to be one that others would want to be part of? The dour and drab countenance that seems to characterise some church gatherings on a Sunday morning must surely communicate something of the God we worship… I want to be with people who know how to enjoy themselves and can party well (and I say that an introverted non-party animal!)

intelligent – ok by this I am meaning a community where there is the ability to reflect deeply on the issues that face us as missionaries in the west and not simply fall in line with the next fad, nor adhere to a mindless fundamentalism because this is all we have known. Inevitably this means being a curious and questioning community, safe in our relationship with Christ, confident enough to admit that we don’t know it all but courageous enough to consider other viewpoints.

adventurous – people who get the whiff a challenge and rise to it rather than people who simply see the ‘danger’ and wish to play it safe. Having been both in communities that have played it safe and communities that have ‘given it a go’ I never want to go back to the dullness and predictability of that kind of environment.

willing to get involved – its easy to do ministry from a distance, but to be willing to get involved in people’s lives and to have them in your home, to put yourself out and not farm someone out to a designated ‘committee’ is a big committment. But surely if anyone is going to sense real genuine love from us then it will be largely because we didn’t stand at a distance and yell instructions, but because we got down and dirty and involved in the good the bad and the ugly of life and walked the path come what may.

Of course I realise these probably typify my own preferences and are something of a reflection of my own personality, but then that’s how it is with leadership isn’t it? Who you are always comes thru. I don’t think there is any avoiding that, but being in a team does help avoid a church simply becoming an unhealthy extension of one person’s personality.

So if you imagine a community that you would dearly love to be part of, which of the above words resonate with you, which would you delete and which of your own would you add?

I’d love to hear!

And Servus Hummillus is…

Over the last few days I have asked one commenter to stop commenting on this blog because he has chosen to do it anonymously. He has said some bold things but hasn’t had the guts to put his real name to them. I have deleted seven comments and repeatedly asked him to give it up. I am tired of it and can’t be bothered any longer,

I am more than happy to engage in strong debate, but only with people who have the courage of their convictions and are prepared to put their name to what they say.

With a bit of time on my hands today I tracked back over this person’s comments and IP addresses and compared them to some previous comments and emails from a person who chose to use their real name at that time…

And what do you know, but the IP addresses were identical… The content was identical to what this person posts on their facebook and blog…

So I know who you are ‘Servus Hummillus’ and if you wish to keep pushing things then I will ‘out’ you.

Customer Service

As I have been using my iPhone a lot on the road I have been considering replacing the battery. I was fairly sure this would be an expensive process and I probably wouldn’t actually do it, but I thought I’d ring Apple just to check…

So I got on the phone and got thru the options menu to a real human – albeit one from a foreign country who is getting paid peanuts and who doesn’t quite understand the inflections in my voice. Not her problem, but one of the things I find frustrating about this outsourcing of labour.

I began by asking if I could find out the cost of a battery. She responded by telling me that she needed to get some of my details first. I gave her my phone number, provider and then a bit more thinking it may be a brief process. 13 minutes later I interuppted to say ‘I just want to know the price of a battery!’

Reading from her ‘script’ she advised me that she needed to gather information so that she could assist me more efficiently. She wasn’t going to be deterred…

In the middle of this Sam had a meltdown so I had to put her on hold.

Eventually after getting serial numbers, IME’s and my favourite colour… I discovered a new battery will set me back $139.00

I got off the phone unimpressed that I had spent 15 minutes getting a 5 second response.

Then today I got an email from Apple (obviously why they were gathering my data) asking from my impression of their customer service…

Well…I told them… Now lets see if anything changes!

So… Why Can’t You Tell Me Who You Are?…

Lately I’ve been getting increasingly concerned about anonymous blogging and commenting.

I’ve been blogging for seven years now and while I do it under the ‘backyardmissionary’ moniker, its not hard to work out who I am, where I live and what I do. That is intentional. I offer my thoughts and reflections on issues and I am happy to stand by them or correct them if I am wrong. There have been several occasions over the last 7 years where I have posted apologies or have removed other posts as a result of being asked to re-think my position on an issue.

The problem with anonymous blogging and commenting is that in my opinion it lacks real conviction and courage. Its easy to offer all sorts of opinions from a place of anonymity, but it takes a lot more thought and reflection to do it from a position of visibility and accountability. When people know who you are it affects what you write.

I am aware that even as I post this some will challenge what I am say and perhaps even be offended at it. I am happy to hear your perspective. You are welcome to try and persuade me differently. But I am tired of people who can crow loudly and vehemently so long as no one knows who they really are.

So feel free to comment but if you are an anonymous commenter then your comment will get deleted.